Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)
Weight: 12.3 oz
Size Tested: 11
Colorway: Metallic Silver/Black/Challenge Red/Tour Yellow
If there’s an overarching theme with Chris Paul’s signature Jordan line, it’s that the shoes are typically solid but leave something to be desired. You’ll always get reliable traction, Podulon cushioning (starting with the CP3.III) and a reinforced toe to protect against toe drag, but something about each of his past signatures has been missing from a performance standpoint.
The original CP3 featured a visible Air unit and details that became a staple of the line – “61xty” was printed on the heel and paying homage to Paul’s late grandfather has been a design element on each successive shoe. It came in at a $115 price point and the nubuck upper was a nice touch, but the shoe wasn’t ready to compete with the top performance models.
The CP3.II was a gorgeous, sleek silhouette but the rigid midsole piece, high arch and oddly placed flex point under the forefoot really hindered heel-toe transition and overall comfort. The CP3.III introduced Podulon cushioning but had a stiff upper that compromised the fit and flexibility.
The IV featured Zoom Air in the heel, Podulon in the forefoot and a Fuse-like midfoot panel, but the performance reviews revealed a bottom-heavy feel thanks to a thick midsole. The CP3.V, to me, was way too stiff through the upper. The Fuse material and synthetics used were durable but just weren’t conducive to the great fit and flexibility that I prefer.
With the CP3.VI, Jordan Brand got it right, and the shoe is an absolute joy to play in.
I again went a half-size down in order to get a more snug fit from the start (I actually played a couple hours of pickup ball in an 11.5 but returned them for an 11 the next day). The last used for the midsole and outsole isn’t overly narrow and should accommodate a most players. The Fuse-based upper fits snug and the inner bootie also aids in the overall fit. The lockdown is very good, perhaps not quite as snug as the Hyperdunk Lows I was playing in, but the overall package of the last, midsole, Fuse upper and inner bootie is solid. The shoe is very stable through the heel and I have no security issues planting or cutting at full-speed, even on dirty courts.
I do have a slight issue with how the shoes lace up, though. For whatever reason – I believe because of the stiff nature of the Fuse upper – I can’t get the fit to stay super snug when I tighten the laces of the bottom eyelets. I’ll tighten through the first couple of eyelets, but when I release to move to the next set the bottom laces loosen up noticeably. Most probably won’t be as picky as I am, because the shoes do lace up tightly. It’s just not quite next-level lockdown like the Kobe VI or Hyperdunk Lows. A staple of the CP3 line is the Achilles pad, which improves comfort but also (in my opinion) leaves a little bit to be desired in terms of fit because it prevents the heel and Achilles from being completely flush with the heel of the shoe. It’s a personal thing, but also something to pay attention to when you try them on.
In short, the fit is very good overall but does leave a little bit to be desired in a couple of small areas.
The transition is, to put it simply, perfect. The shoe glides smoothly through the footstrike, thanks to a low-profile Phylon midsole, but is not as stiff as prior models. The visible TPU shank provides plenty of stability too, and sets it apart from a slightly more stripped down shoe like the Hyperdunk. The Fuse upper also has notches along the eyestay and isn’t as thick as last year’s CP3.V. I’d compare the Fuse upper to that of the Melo M8, just in a lower profile. It also became more and more flexible (without sharp creasing) through the first few wearings – something that prior CP3 models haven’t done.
The outsole also features several lateral flex grooves – two on the forefoot and four modified grooves on the heel. These combine with a recessed section running down the middle of the shoe, almost giving it a very subtle split-toe feel and really accentuating the push off of the medial toe.
The Podulon system is used extremely well in the CP3.VI. The outsole gives a visual representation of where Podulon is used – underneath the ball of the foot and along the big toe – and there’s a noticeable but pleasant difference in the cushioning across the footbed. I feel like the Podulon unit is more firm/responsive and it definitely aids when pushing off to change direction and get to top speed (it would be extremely helpful if you, ya know, have a semblance of a first step but I’m more of the crafty type…). The heel cushioning seems slightly concave and your foot will probably feel like it sits low in the shoe – I loved the way I felt in it but others may find it slightly strange.
The court feel is also excellent, but so far hasn’t seemed to sacrifice cushioning in order to maintain that feel. While the Hyperdunk Lows bottomed out slightly after a solid month of playing, the Cp3.VI cushioning setup seems to strike a balance between compression/deflection and keeping me a low to the ground. Being a Zoom lover, I had been skeptical of Podulon in the past but the CP3.VI gets it right.
The traction on the CP3.VI ranks among the all-time greats for me (the Zoom BBII and this shoe are 1 and 1A in my opinion). There are a couple of reasons for this. First, herringbone. Herringbone on herringbone on herringbone. The entire outsole is covered with it and the grooves are especially deep on this traction pattern. I’ve hooped in the shoes for two weeks and both courts that I’ve played on have been below average in terms of cleanliness, but the traction has still been impeccable.
The second reason for the excellent traction are those flex grooves I mentioned in the transition section. The flexibility and resulting floor contact are awesome and that really aids in traction. With the lateral and vertical flex grooves, it creates an outsole with a bunch of uniquely shaped pods that are tuned (via those recessed grooves and the deep herringbone pattern) to provide great traction. Having the right points of the shoe on the floor and engaging traction whenever you demand it is a huge asset in terms of performance.
Like most Fuse-based shoes, you’re going to get great durability out of the upper. It may be a little stiff at first and lack slightly in the fit department, but it will not break down on you. The inner bootie is plush – no tissue paper tongue here – and the shoe comes with three pairs of laces should you tear through a pair (or if you’re just a fashionista). I also mentioned the toe wrap in the opening section of this review and it’s back in its familiar place, extending the rubber outsole on to the toe of the shoe for enhanced durability and protection against toe drag.
To conclude, I am a huge fan of the CP3.VI. The traction, cushioning and heel-toe transition are all very good. The outsole is one of the most finely tuned and engineered setups that I’ve played in. The flexibility through the upper is solid and the fit – especially going a half-size down which I would wholeheartedly recommend – is good. The Podulon system has been employed perfectly, and is one of the best non-Zoom cushioning setups I’ve used along with the adidas TS Supernatural Creator.
Were there a couple of issues? Yes. The fit in the heel thanks to that Achilles pad could be a little tighter (but again, with a half-size down and two pairs of socks I personally didn’t have an issue with it) and I can’t quite get the full lockdown I love when lacing the shoes up.
Bottom line, if you’re a guard or a wing that likes the feel of the low, the CP3.VI should be one of the first shoes you try on. I recommend going a half-size down to get the best possible fit, but you’ll love the traction, smooth transition and cushioning setup. Some colorways are also starting to go on sale, making the CP3.VI a perfect cop if you’re on a budget and looking for a shoe that will carry you through your offseason workouts and open gym runs.
Overall Score: 46/50 x 2 = 92/100